Practical Jokes Around the Office: Wrapping a Desk

There is an Old Klingon proverb that says: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

It is very cold in December. (Well, when we’re not chinooking, anyway.)

Several months ago, I fell victim to an attack. Not a physical or verbal attack — a water balloon attack (see [[Critical Mass Reckless Summer Reunion]]). This was orchestrated by the Delichte brothers, Jason and Darren. (I’m still not sure how I became the focus of their attention. I’m not sure if I should be honoured or horrified.) I certainly owe them a special “thank you” for that particular event, and one day, when I find something appropriate, I shall.

But first things first.

The water balloon attack could not have been pulled off without inside information, namely my boss, Allard. As you know, I tend to carry cameras with me. The Delichtes made sure I was camera-free by having Allard make sure that my cameras were at a safe distance. He did it very well, too — I had no idea that I was being set up. At least not until a line of water bombers appeared on the hill above the volleyball courts.

As the sayings go: One good turn deserves another; no good deed goes unpunished; eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth; wrong me, do I not revenge?

For the last few months, I’ve been plotting and scheming, trying to think of something good to pull off. The trick, of course, is so that the person at the receiving end has no knowledge what is to befall them, yet can do nothing about it once it’s happened. Not as gruesome as Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”, but certainly something that when seen, will provoke the appropriate feeling of “he got me”.

Such it was that in a moment of brilliance (or drunken stupidity, they’re pretty much interchangeable), it came to me. I would give Allard a nice, gift-wrapped present.

His desk. And everything on it.

I wish I could take credit for this little idea, but I must confess that Chris had mentioned it around the time we were replacing Teak’s files with several cubic feet of candy (see [[Revenge is Sweet]]). But no-one had acted on it around here, so it was left as a possibility. And with Allard taking a couple of days off for the Christmas holidays, I was presented with a prime opportunity for revenge.

Yesterday, I made a little trip out to Costco, to acquire a few rolls of cheap(er) wrapping paper. I didn’t know exactly how much I’d need, but the desks aren’t that small (Allard has an end unit, which means vertical surfaces), and while his desk isn’t even remotely as cluttered as mine, there are still a number of things that require wrapping.

I arrived at the office around 19:00. I needed to make sure that there was no-one else around on the second floor. My goal was to complete the task without anyone knowing who it was. I wanted the mystery effect to last at least a few days (Allard won’t be back until the 29th), and because Allard arrives so early in the morning (before most of the people on this floor), I wanted the effect to be seen before he “opened his gifts”.

The first thing I did was take reference photographs. I needed to know (roughly) where everything was so I could put it back in a wrapped state. Then came the fun part: wrapping. I started with the aisle-facing side of his desk — it was the easiest thing to do, and a good place to start. It didn’t take long, but admittedly, didn’t really leave me with a sense of accomplishment. I still had a long way to go.

I got bogged down in the details. The table legs are not straight cylinders — they are slightly arched, and taper quite a lot towards the top; the shelving racks are like blocky shovels, which do not wrap easily (or nicely). It was 21:45 when I came to the realization that I needed help, or be up all night.

For the record, I would love to give credit where credit is due. I would love to stay who it was who loaned two hours of their time to my task, as strange (and draining) as it was. However, in the interests of preventing any form of retribution, they will remain nameless. But their help was invaluable, and definitely prevented me from staying too late. They left shortly before midnight.

I continued working until everything had at least some wrapping paper around it: the desk, side table, filing cabinent, phone (wrapping the cord was no fun), the monitor and monitor stand, the laptop dock, the keyboard, mouse and mousepad, more books than should be allowed on a desk, the chair, the light post, and his nameplate.

Everything was put back in the place it had been originally found. Cables were plugged back in. Ideally, everything should be exactly as it was before … just covered with wrapping paper. There are even bows on a few things. (I had toyed with using ribbon, but in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t. That’s a little more detail than I really care to think about.)

Towards the end, admittedly, I was getting a little sloppy. My back was killing me, I was hot, tired, and desperately wanting to go to bed. But I finished, leaving the chair perhaps a little less wrapped than I would have liked. Around 1:45, I finally packed up my things, cleaned up the evidence, and made for home.

I skipped gym this morning — I needed the rest. After the “workout” I’d had moving things around and wrapping, I figured I’d had enough exercise for a while. (Yeah, I’m stretching. I’ll do cardio all week to make up for it.)

A couple of people were already in the office when I arrived. It didn’t take long for word to spread. People were taking notice. Even the less-than perfect wrapping job was being lauded. And if nothing else, the smiles have been worth all the time and money.

After all, if you can’t get a good laugh out of revenge, why do it at all?

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